Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A two-wheeled cart, especially a farmer's cart that can be tilted to dump a load.
  • n. A crude cart used to carry condemned prisoners to their place of execution, as during the French Revolution.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Alternative form of tumbril.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A cucking stool for the punishment of scolds.
  • n. A rough cart.
  • n. A cart or carriage with two wheels, which accompanies troops or artillery, to convey the tools of pioneers, cartridges, and the like.
  • n. A kind of basket or cage of osiers, willows, or the like, to hold hay and other food for sheep.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A low cart used by farmers for the removal of dung, etc.; a dung-cart.
  • n. A covered cart with two wheels, which accompanies artillery, for the conveyance of tools, ammunition, etc.
  • n. A chair fixed on a pair of wheels and having very long shafts used to punish scolds.
  • n. A sort of circular cage or crib, made of osiers or twigs, used in some parts of England for holding food for sheep in winter.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a farm dumpcart for carrying dung; carts of this type were used to carry prisoners to the guillotine during the French Revolution

Etymologies

Middle English tumberell, from Old French tomberel, from tomber, to let fall, perhaps of Germanic origin.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • a two-wheeled tumbrel: According to the OED, a tumbrel is a cart constructed so that the body tilts backwards to empty out the load, such as a dung-cart.

    Editorial Notes to 'Letter to the Women of England'

  • I think a tumbrel remark is either one you make in a tumbrel on your way to the guillotine cause a tumbrel is the wagon that carried French aristocrats to the chopping block or it's the type of remark that could lead to people wanting to put you in a tumbrel, as in "let them eat cake."

    Christopher Hitchens "can tell the difference between a true tumbrel remark and a false one."

  • He was removed from the magistracy after having, in 1800, jumped into the tumbrel taking Sarah Lloyd, a servant girl, to the scaffold, and harangued the crowd about the injustice of the sentence.

    Index of People

  • There was the whiff of a tumbrel depositing yet another victim before the guillotine in the Place de la Concorde.

    Welcome to the Show

  • Sister Charlotte of the Resurrection, seventy-eight and an invalid, having been thrown roughly to the pavement from the tumbrel, was heard to speak words of forgiveness and encouragement to her tormentor.

    The Holy Martyrs of Compiegne

  • Spelling has been guillotined by tabloids and others for a tumbrel of offenses — her nose job, her feud with her mother, her breast-augmentation surgery, her acting on Beverly Hills, 90210, her appearances with her husband on the reality show Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood.

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  • The doyen of modern Dickens studies, Michael Slater, envisaged him in "Charles Dickens" 2009 as the kind of writer whose every private experience is hitched to the lurching tumbrel of his creative imagination.

    Snapshots of 'Boz'

  • Next to be hauled out of the tumbrel and up to the guillotine: Kendra Chantelle, Ashthon Jones, and Karen Rodriguez.

    'American Idol' 2011: Lucky 13 [Updated w/ Poll]

  • Take, for instance, the following piece of purple prose, full of sentences just begging to hop into the tumbrel and ride to the guillotine.

    Author! Author! » 2010 » July

  • But they pulled them out of the tumbrel, shoved them beneath the guillotine, and . . . it was over.

    Shameless

Comments

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  • "A low cart used by farmers for the removal of dung, etc.; a dung-cart. The body of the cart was a separate box, sometimes called a which (see which), in which the dung or other load was placed, to be dumped by upsetting the box. The name is often given to the carts used to convey the victims of the French Revolution to the guillotine, but contemporary plates represent these as large four-wheeled wagons."

    --Century Dictionary

    September 21, 2010

  • blood-sucking insurance monstrosity

    March 20, 2009

  • I like this line in that column: "It seems as though it would be pretty easy to upend a bonus contract that must read something like: 'If you ruin the world economy, we’ll pay you an extra million.'"

    March 20, 2009

  • "Mr. Obama belatedly tried to stop the tumbrels that began rolling toward the Potomac after Larry Summers went on Sunday talk shows to assert that there was nothing the administration could do about the blood-sucking insurance monstrosity’s venal payout."
    —Maureen O'Dowd, "No Boiled Carrots," New York Times, March 17, 2009

    March 20, 2009

  • "TUMBRELS, covered carts which carry ammunition for the artillery." (citation in list description) Also tumbril.

    October 9, 2008